Alberta wild! A look back at the most memorable animal stories of last year

A wild turkey roosting in downtown Calgary, a baby owl that got it head stuck in some farm equipment, and a pink pigeon — in Alberta, birds were big newsmakers this year.

From a pink pigeon to a wild turkey roaming around urban Calgary to a roadside baby antelope delivery

A wild turkey roosting in downtown Calgary, a baby owl that got it head stuck in some farm equipment, and a pink pigeon — Alberta's bird population were big newsmakers in 2019. But don't forget the wild wolf attack in a Banff campground or the newborn antelope delivered on the side of the road.

The Pink Pigeon

This pink racing pigeon ended up being a house guest in Leduc after it failed to return from a practice flight. (Morgan Scheie Christiansen)

Last spring, a bright pink pigeon landed in Morgan Christiansen's backyard in Leduc. At first, she thought it was someone's pet parrot, because it was such a vibrant shade of fuchsia. Turns out, it was a plain old white pigeon whose tail feathers had been dyed with food colouring — a common practice among pigeon racers, who need to distinguish their birds during competitions.

Pinky got lost after a racing event in Calmar, which is about a 20 kilometre drive west of Leduc.

Morgan was able to reunite the pink bird with his owner, thanks to an ID tag complete with phone number. 

The owner was very thankful to give Pinky back, and as a reward, the owner gave Morgan and her family a pet pigeon. 

Baby owl stuck in farm equipment

Acme, Alta., farmer Matt Sawyer ducks after a mama owl comes swooping in after him as he tries to free an owlet stuck in his air drill machine. (Matt Sawyer)

Back in June, a baby owl got his head stuck between two pipes of a railing on a machine platform on Matt Sawyer's farm just outside Acme, Alberta. 

Sawyer believes the owlet was learning to fly.

"I am assuming it made it to the top of that railing," Sawyer said, "and it ended up slipping and getting its neck stuck all the way down between the two bars."

Sawyer tried to free the little guy, but mama and papa owl attacked him. Eventually the farmer did manage to free the baby owl from his farm equipment, but said if it ever happened again, he'd wear a hockey helmet.

Turkey trot in Ramsay

This wild turkey has been roaming the streets of Ramsay for several weeks and has become a beloved member of the community. (Danielle Nerman/CBC)

The Calgary Eyeopener's Danielle Nerman, her most unforgettable animal story of the year came out of one of her favourite assignments. And it's also a bird story.

Nerman was sent to find a wild turkey roaming around the community of Ramsay.

She found "Turk" with the help of some helpful children who pointed her to nearby yard.

"It's right there moving under that house," said one boy.

Sure enough, Turk was relaxing outside a nearby home. 

Brianna Suska told Nerman that she first saw the turkey a few weeks previous in her yard. She already had a bird feeder out, but had taken to sprinkling some food on the ground for the gobbler.

"He was staring in our windows and hung around, kept coming back and he's been around ever since," she said. "He comes by when he needs food and water and friends, I guess."

It  has been nearly nine months. Turk is now happy, healthy and doesn't appear to have plans to leave Ramsay. He even has his own Facebook page — it's called The Loyal Followers of the Ramsay Turkey.

Rancher rescues newborn pronghorn

10-year-old Hally Pahl holds Saamis, a baby pronghorn that her dad Tyrel delivered via emergency c-section on a road outside Medicine Hat, Alta. (Tyrel Pahl)

Back in June, Tyler Pahl was driving along highway 41A near Medicine Hat when he saw an adult pronghorn laying on the side of the road. He stopped and discovered the female pronghorn was pregnant, and she'd been hit by a car.

"I ran home and grabbed a scalpel," Pahl said. 

When he returned, officers from Alberta Fish and Wildlife were on hand.

"After they euthanized her, we quickly dragged her into the bottom of the ditch and cut her open and we were able to bring the baby out alive," he said, adding that he had never delivered any animal by emergency c-section. 

Pronghorns are a prairie antelopes, common in southern Alberta. The baby pronghorn was adopted by the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo, and last we heard, he is living happily among a harem of female pronghorn.

Rare wolf attack in Banff

Russ Fee was camping when he heard screams coming from the neighbouring site. He rushed over and helped stop a wolf attack. (Elizabeth Withey/CBC)

Calgarian Russ Fee was camping when he heard panicked voices rising from the campsite next to his. At first he thought a child had gone missing — until he heard both a man and a woman desperately scream, "Help!"

He found a wolf trying to drag something from a tent, like a dog yanking at a bone. 

"It was just so much larger than any dog I've ever seen," Fee told the Calgary Eyeopener

Inside the tent was a family of four visiting Banff, Alta., from New Jersey. The father's arm was clamped in the animal's jaws as he tried to fend off the wolf.

"I had a good run going at the time … and it was just so quick and the screams were so intense, that I knew it was obviously a terrible situation, so I just kind of kept running at it and I just kicked it sort of in the back hip area."

After a standoff, during which the men threw rocks at the wolf, the campers took refuge at the neighbouring campsite.

More than 50 cats adopted in 24 hours

The Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society says that, including the 600 animals currently in its care, the organization has accepted more than 2,000 homeless pets so far this year. (AARCS)

In June, more than 50 cats were adopted in 24 hours from the City of Calgary's animal shelter, after the city put out an urgent call warning the shelter was getting overcrowded.

"Animal services has had to re-arrange rooms and cages in the shelter to accommodate all of these cats," Patti Smadis with the city's animal services, said at the time.

The city dropped adoption costs for the weekend by half, and also threw in a one-year licence, a collar and a bag of food and toys.

The discount worked and the city thanked Calgarians for helping the cats find homes.

With files from Danielle Nerman


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